Thursday, November 20, 2014

November Movie Reviews

On November 8th, I flew from Bangalore to Paris, taking off from Bengaluru airport at 2:45am, after working most of the week  in Bangalore and part of it in Dubai.  I should have been extremely tired, but due to the fact that a Delta Airlines frequent flyer card Does NOT allow you to pick your seat on an Air France (Flying Blue) flight, even though they are both "Skyteam", I was stuck in an aisle seat, 23G on an Air France 777-200.  The aisle seat afforded me frequent bumping by the service cart, crying from the 1 year old sitting one row behind me, and inconsiderate brushes and bumping by any passenger headed to the rest room.  Over the Arabian Sea, I took off the futile sleep mask I'd donned, requested a double cognac, and began watching movies on the little screen embedded in the back of the headrest in row 22G, figuring I'd pass out from exhaustion and get at least a few hours of sleep.  Slumber never arrived.

First, I watched Lucy with Scarlett Johansson (link here).  It was pretty good, but not awesome.  The premise was interesting, the special effects were good, and it's always a pleasure to watch Johansson on-screen.  Morgan Freeman was subdued, while Amr Waked played a fine role.  Pilou Asbæk - who reminds me of Ewan McGregor's older & creepier brother played an intense and abbreviated role at the beginning of the film (enough said).  There were too many meaningless car chases…  too much gratuitious violence that could have been better wrapped up / better executed with less strings left hanging… and the ending was a little bit "silly" for my analytical mind.  But all-in-all, I'd give Lucy a thumb's up and recommend it if you're bored, or stuck, sleepless on a plane.

Next, before reaching Iranian Airspace, I watched Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and the lovely Emily Blunt link here).  I can't recommend this film, and I have no idea why it has 4 out of 5 stars on IMDB.  Tom Cruise played himself.  Emily Blunt plays a jaded, angry, cynical warrior who hacks up aliens… and who comes to understand Tom Cruise's character.  What I did not like most about this
film, was the ridiculousness of the plot where Cruise keeps going back - like Groundhog Day - to have the day reset, and then learning from those mistakes he made that day in the next regeneration, only to then run into yet another road block.  The Groundhog Day theme MIGHT be plausible when they throw in the alien explanation… ok…  I could take a leap of faith on that and suspend disbelief for a while.  But, the stupid combat simulator that keeps mortally injuring Cruise as he learns to fight, is meaningless and non-representative of what he faces on the battle field later.  After he's mortally injured, he is Frequently shot in the head by Blunt, so much so that almost 1/4 of the scenes end with her cocking a .38 and pointing it at Cruise's head.  Wouldn't a sergeant be courtmartialed for summarily executing another wounded soldier in training?  And if the alien "Omega" can see into the future and reset time to an earlier date to learn from its failures, why couldn't it see that Cruise and Blunt were about to kill it when they find it under a (cliché) pyramid, and roll back the clock to before Cruise tries to kill it?  If you're going to present a premise in a science fiction movie, then be consistent and stick with it.  Paradox time loops, flash-backs, hallucinations, military legal code, physics…  these things need to be obeyed.  One thumb's down.

Crossing over Iran, still wide away, I watched Grand Budapest Hotel. (link here)  Dr Desert Flower had rented this on Netflix some time back in September when we were flying to my little brother's wedding in Chicago, and watched it on her iPad.  My beloved 1/2 deaf wife offered to give me one ear phone so I could watch it too, crammed into the middle seat beside her in a SouthWest Airlines coach seat [she always wants the aisle, I detest the aisle, and really just want a window seat that affords a bulkhead upon which I can lean against and sleep (see earlier postings this month here)].  I declined, tucked in my elbows, and read Voltaire's "Treatise on Tolerance".  Sleepless over pre-dawn Iran, and still disgusted by the Doug Liman hackery I just endured, I watched Wes Anderson's romp through Eastern Europe Vague-a-stan with multi-cameo appearances by many many many actors - The Society of the Crossed Keys, Ha!  It was a somewhat heart warming story, but rather silly, and again, with meaningless chase scenes and needless violence (sleds? shoot outs? beheadings? really…   necessary?) Over-all, it was not unenjoyable, and I did snicker a few times.  Can't say I loved it, but it was not bad.

Crossing from Iran to Turkey, and avoiding Syrian, Pakistani, Ukrainian, Afghani, and Chechnyan airspace, I still was strangely awake - albeit glad to not be shot down by any surface to air missiles.  I saw that Divergent (link here) was on the movie list, so I queued it up, request another double cognac, and settled into 139 minutes of teenage pablum.  Maybe if I was a 12 or 13 year old girl I would have liked it much better, but I didn't care about the characters, the hole-filled-plot, or the "filmed on a tiny budget indoors" cinematography.  I didn't think anyone was "dreamy" or any of the acting believable.  Massive thumbs down.  Ew.  2 hours of my life I will never get back.

When Divergent ended, we were transitioning from Hungary to Austria, and then breakfast was served over Germany.  Air France "Premier Economy" was not 1/2 as nice as I remembered it being in 2012 when I last flew on AIr France, and instead of "bolting on" Premier Economy to the back side of Business Class and treating it like business class, Air France has changed their model, and now treats Premier Economy like it is "slightly bigger coach", with no seat reclining, no business class food, and much-more-absentee service than I recall from 2 years ago.  It was very slightly better than coach in that the arm rest was wider than 2 inches, and there was a tiny metallic foot rest that folded down from the row in front of you… but I would not say it was truly worth a 40% higher air fare than economy  / coach (thigh still less than the 4X multiplier difference from coach to business class).

After we landed in Paris, I got a lobster wrap and a 1/2 bottle of wine, and slept well from Paris to Newfoundland, before waking up to do some email, eat lunch, and get ready to land.  Atlanta to OC, I got a nice window seat (here).

On the way TO Dubai and India, I couldn't sleep so well in the aforementioned uncomfortable Premier Economy Air France seat, so I watched Guardians of the Galaxy (link here) upon Jon Stewart's recommendation.  It was OK.  Not great, not that enjoyable.  Very not believable.  Very hoaky.  Perhaps I would have enjoyed it if I was taking a small child or a grand kid to the movies to see it…  I dunno.  I had No Idea that both Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper were in it as a walking tree and a raccoon - a stretch for both pretty boys to pull off successfully.  I still have no idea why SO Many People LOVE Chris Pratt - he's a goof, and he played himself in Guardians.   Sadly predictable that they're going to make a Guardians 2 sequel.  Ugh.

Last weekend, Dr Desert Flower agreed to go see Fury with me (link here).  She told em she wanted to go.  She said she wanted to see it.  I took her.  She hated it.  We were not even home and she was IM-ing people telling them how she hated it.  I should have followed my retired neighbor Bob's advice and gone to see it in the afternoon while she was at work.  Graphically violent, with a very-unbelievable ending (as in "cannot be believed", not "unbelievably awesome!")… I would have enjoyed the film more had I gone to see it by myself (or seen it on a plane, over Iran).  I still think that the older Brad Pitt gets, the more he begins to resemble my younger brother…  or at least, in the make-up for Fury, they made him look like my little brother.  

The next night, we went to see Rosewater (link here) at the same theater - nice leather seats with arm
rests, a wine bar, and table service in the theater if you really want it (they were delivering pizzas and entrées to movie goers who ordered before the credits.  Rosewater was good.  I wanted it to be great.  Parts of it were heart-moving, wrenching, inspiring.  Parts of it were silly, and very Jersey-esque.  Filmed in Jordan while Jon Stewart took a sabbatical from "The Daily Show", it was very believable.  I recommend anyone who geopolitically aware, go to see this movie, regardless of your politics - right, left, green, centrist, it doesn't matter… it has a message for everyone.  And it is amazing that cinema can take a Dane interrogating a Mexican in a Jordanian room, and make you think they're all Iranians in an Iranian prison.  The Iranian women in the film were actually Iranian actresses, refreshingly.  And DDF liked it much more than Fury, of course.  


  1. That's a shame. I had a blast at Guardians of the Galaxy. (It's a superhero space adventure with a talking raccoon and a sentient tree -- I'm not sure they were aiming for "believable".) And I thought _Edge of Tomorrow_ was excellent. Am looking forward to rewatching it. Sorry you didn't enjoy them.

    But the flight sounds nasty -- being on an uncomfortable flight, having rather been sleeping but not able to, watching on a small screen... sounds like a bad environment to enjoying anything.

  2. "every body has their own opinion" ( ) …. I guess, it is just… for Guardians, the Nova Force links together in a less than futile, totally ridiculous "net" that does nothing, I never liked John C Reilly (ever since Ricky Bobby) and to think he's the lovable police force insider is just "bleh". Thanos is supposed to be the ultimate universal planet smashing bad ass of Marvel comics and in Guardians he's a laughable buffoon. There were just too many "suspension of disbelief" moments that I couldn't embrace. On "Edge" think about it… how many times could Blunt shoot Cruise in the head, legally, and get away with it? How many reincarnations would it take for a marketing fool (my love of marketing shows through) to learn how to be an effective killing machine? Why wouldn't the Omega just roll back time to before Cruise and Blunt show up in Paris to threaten it? Bill Murray was much better in Groundhog Day.

    But yes… the environment didn't help at all, and admittedly provided a significant negative bias for the movie watching. Would have been better to have been sleeping over Asia Minor.

  3. I loved John C Reilly in Talladega Nights! Heh heh.

    Blunt's character had already died hundreds, possibly thousands of times. She does not give a fuck. Every time she kills him, everyone's timeline resets. Legal has nothing to do with it. She only kills him once, then immediately it's back to nonce.

    The story is about his character development. From cowardice to courage. He develops affection for his squad, even as he later learns he has to let them all die. It's not really about whether the training devices would have been realistic.

  4. "Shake, n Bake".
    I Did like Bill Paxton in it though. I thought to myself "aha, now Paxton has finally found an acting niche for himself!" "Hope in the form of glorious combat, battle is the great redeemer, the fiery crucible in which the only true heroes are forged."

    I did not know that "nonce" was a word. I learn something new everyday.


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